Summer doesn't officially start until June but with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which opens this week, the summer movie season officially launches. Here's a look at 10 must-see movies looming on the horizon.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 1)
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, etc.
In what promises to be an action-packed, special FX romp — not to mention the biggest worldwide box office event of 2015 (barring something truly unexpected) — Tony Stark and the gang must do battle against the supervillain Ultron, who plans to wreak cosmic havoc on planet Earth. Whedon's just gonna be Whedon here. Get ready for lots of superhero banter and aerial slugfests.
Hot Pursuit (May 8)
Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Sofia Vergara, Reese Witherspoon
This comedy about an inept police officer (Witherspoon) tasked with protecting the widow of a notorious drug dealer from violent cartels and a slew of corrupt cops is the latest entry in an emergent sub-genre of female-led comedies about law enforcement. (Remember 2013's The Heat, with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy?) Witherspoon and Vergara both reveal their vast reservoirs of comic talents, and look like a hilarious (if unlikely) pairing. It'll be a breezy summer flick, with plenty of laughs.
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15)
Director: George Miller
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron
We're not embarrassed to say that this is probably our most anticipated film of the young blockbuster season. The Mel Gibson-led Mad Max franchise from the 80s is little more than a weird cultish blip at this point. The stories about an Australian police officer seeking vengeance in the desert weren't exactly representative of Hollywood's ample resources. The 2015 reboot, with Tom Hardy in the leading role, looks electric. In the same post-apocalyptic wasteland where bands of wackos battle to the death, Max and a mysterious woman fight to survive. Hardy brings his A game to every role, and the production design here will be the coolest of 2015.
Tomorrowland (May 22)
Director: Brad Bird
Starring: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Hugh Laurie
What with Pixar and Marvel within their corporate umbrella, Disney has a pretty impressive line-up in 2015. Tomorrowland is its entry in the live-action family flick category. A teenage girl with a scientific bent and a former boy genius (Clooney, go figure), team up to discover a secret place — beyond the traditional dimensions of space time — that could help change the world. Note also that the script was written by Lost co-creator Damen Lindelof, so expect some addictive mystery.
Jurassic World (June 12)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onfrio, Bryce Dallas Howard
Consider our fingers crossed for this Jurassic Park sequel, but we're frankly not all the way on board with the endless resuscitation of film franchises. The premise of Jurassic World is that, due to declining attendance at the fully functioning Jurassic Park, the scientists must create a new attraction, a brand-new dinosaur created in the lab. Dun-dun-dun! Naturally, the plan backfires. And Chris Pratt, now with an additional starring role to his name, must save the day. Spielberg's Jurassic Park remains one of the great box-office smash hits of the '90s; we're hoping this latest installment doesn't damage the legacy in any permanent way.
Terminator: Genisys (July 1)
Director: Alan Taylor
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
Arnold stars alongside Game of Thrones' Khalisi and the douche from Divergent, as they try to fend off Judgement Day in this Terminator sequel. Much like the earlier films in the franchise, this one involves John Connor, Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. In fact, much like the original, John Connor of the future sends soldier Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother and ensure John's existence. But in the past, Sarah has been orphaned and raised by a T-800 cyborg and, together with Reese, she's got to elude a whole bunch of bad guys and prevent the sinister "Genisys" program from getting underway. Let's hope this one's not as messy as 2009's Terminator Salvation.
Magic Mike: XXL (July 1)
Director: Gregory Jacobs
Starring: Channing Tatum, Amber Heard
More really sexy male stripping courtesy of Channing Tatum & Co.
Ant-Man (July 17)
Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Michael Douglas
Funny man Paul Rudd dons a superhero suit in this Marvel production that's been the subject of some pitfalls and controversy. Con man Scott Lang must help his mentor, Dr. Frank Pym, pull off a heist that will save the world. But in order to do so, he must don a special suit that allows him to shrink in size while gaining strength. Expect a slight tonal shift from some of the earlier Marvel films, but rom-com specialist Peyton Reed (Down with Love, The Break-Up, Bring it On) may have a dark horse up his sleeve. Plus, we're happy to see Evangeline Lilly getting love in a major studio project.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (July 31)
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Starring: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Ving Rames
At a certain point, how much more "impossible" can the mission get, right? But the studios are undeterred: They claim this is Ethan Hunt's MOST IMPOSSIBLE mission yet. He and the gang must stop "The Syndicate," an organized crime outfit as vast and skilled and technologically advanced as their spy agency, from turning the tables on them. With heart-pounding special effects and, as ever, never-ending twists and turns, this one's about as blockbustery as they come.
Fantastic Four (Aug. 7)
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
Directed by the guy who brought you Chronicle, this Marvel reboot is still something of a question mark. It's got a heck of a young cast, and a familiar origin-story premise — four young scientists acquire superhuman powers after a failed experiment and must use those powers to stop a villainous tyrant — but color us unconvinced. We're willing to be persuaded by a killer performance or a unique vibe, but in the sea of superhero movies bombarding us this (and every) summer, it might be hard for Fantastic Four to make a splash.